In February 2016, the world was rocked to see the death and carnage that had occurred in the war torn zoo, Taiz Zoological Gardens located in Taiz, Yemen. A volunteer E-support group, SOS Zoo and Bear Rescue led by Chantal Jonkergouw stepped into action. Eleven lions and six leopards had already perished with many animals barely clinging to life. It was very much like a horror movie. However, Chantal Jokergouw got to work quickly and set up a fund. She was successfully able to garner media support and managed to provide for these animals for ten and a half months.
A Lion’s Heart, a US based charity with president, Amy Adams, stepped in and helped SOS Zoo and Bear Rescue provide for the animals since September 2016 with a mutually respectful partnership. SOS Zoo and Bear Rescue and A Lion’s Heart decided in a push for permits to pull all funding to the zoo. Unfortunately, our withdrawal was not successful and the only ones suffering were the very animals we vowed to save. We were heading for mass die offs as the animals continued to become weaker and their bodies began to breakdown. This broke our hearts and I knew something had to be done. So, A Lion’s Heart stepped back in. SOS Zoo and Bear declined but is still involved in working on permits.
People often ask why? Our nonprofit is based on helping abused, starving, and even war torn animals. When there is no hope, we do everything we can to be that hope for them. We take the most difficult and challenging of circumstances and work with what we are given. We rely heavily on the kindness of donors. We are a small NGO but we pride ourselves in the ability to accomplish big things. Why Taiz zoo and Yemen? Should we let animals die due to location? Our answer is no. As President of A Lion's Heart, Amy Adams, recently said, "I may have lost my mind with this enormous project but I found my heart in Taiz zoo."
The Taiz zoo veterinarian, Dr. Abdulrazak, sent A Lion’s Heart a plea to save these animals. How could we ignore the suffering and impending death of these animals? Especially, since through no fault of their own, they are trapped in the most desperate of situation. Therefore, a Lion’s Heart stepped back in for emergency care. We have been caring or this war trapped zoo in Taiz, Yemen for a month so far but we are quickly losing funds at $4,000 USD a week. The animals will be again starving. So, we need help to get these animals’ story out. We are truly all they have and we believe it is a moral responsibility not to let these animals die where they stand.
Taiz zoo, also, holds the largest captive population of Arabian leopards in the world. They are critically endangered and red listed by the IUCN and slotted for extinction. Taiz zoo, with the birth of three cubs, now has thirty-one leopards that are thought to hold the key to this subspecies survival.
It is believed there are only approximately ninety left in the world with both captive and wild. Therefore, Taiz may have a third of the only Arabian leopards left in the world. We must not fail these animals. The alternative is a painful starvation and the loss of these animals and so many more.